Friday, June 19, 2015

Paracel Islands

Deep in the South China Sea, bunched together with such wonderful names as the Amphitrite Group and the Crescent Group (both of which, sounding like the names of corporations, leave me wondering why some of the biggest companies don't just buy some of the world's tax havens, lock stock and airport, and then they could pay even less tax; or maybe that's what the Amphitrite Group and the Crescent Group already are), the Paracel Islands were "annexed" as part of French Indo-China in 1932, hoping to exploit the oil and gas believed to lie beneath the seas. 

After the French left, the South Vietnamese took possession, and established military garrisons on the islands, but lost them in 1974 to the Chinese, who prefer their own name for the islands, 西沙群島; Xīshā Qúndǎo, Quần Đảo Hoàng Sa in Vietnamese. The island chain includes one known as 金银岛 in Mandarin, literally "Money Island" in translation; Quang Ảnh in Vietnamese.  There are about a hundred and thirty islands in total, though most of them are little more than coral reefs and atolls; they occupy about five thousand square miles in total, though barely half of this is land, and barely a quarter of the land is usable, let alone habitable.

No one lives there now, but the Chinese maintain the military garrisons and have built an artificial harbour, and the US have some of their biggest aircraft carriers constantly touring the area from their base at Guam. 
Malaysia, Taiwan and the Philippines also claim the islands, which South Vietnam still wants back. Oh dear, is this another World War over absolutely nothing being mapped out in the strategic plans of nations?

The photo above shows Chinese athletes training for the new Olympic sport of Paracel Surfing, which Bei-Jing hopes to have introduced very soon.

Marks for: less than zero

Marks against: the number of nuclear missiles held jointly by the participating countries

Copyright © 2015 David Prashker
All rights reserved
The Argaman Press

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